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New technology-oriented businesses that are based on knowledge constitute a particularly valuable channel for knowledge and technology transfer.

Employees at Helmholtz Centers often form new businesses on the basis of their know-how and license agreements. These spin-offs often sign user agreements that enable them to make use of the Centers' large-scale infrastructure to work on further product development. Sometimes the respective Helmholtz Centers get involved in the new companies. This enables spin-offs to save money on licenses and the use of equipment and lets the Centre participate in the company’s growth and commercial success.

Spin-offs of the Helmholtz Association

This list summarizes the spin-offs of the Helmholtz Association.
(as of January 2024)

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Helmholtz Enterprise

The Helmholtz Enterprise (HE) spin-off program promotes entrepreneurial and spin-off activities of scientists within the Helmholtz Association.

Learn more

Selected Spin-offs

Since 2005, over 400 start-ups have emerged from the Helmholtz Association. Here you can learn more about some of them:

Alteva Technologies

Next generation lightweight, powerful lithium-based batteries for a sustainable electric transportation sector.

Year of foundation: 2023
Founders: Aiko Bernehed and Ida Milow
Website: https://www.alteva.tech/
Center: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Founders Aiko Bernehed and Ida Milow. Photo: Alteva

Alteva focuses on lithium-sulphur battery technology, which is well-known but has seen little commercial use to date, and aims to contribute to the decarbonization of the transport sector. With this focus, founders Ida Milow and Aiko Bernehed are focusing on lightweight, sustainable battery technology and avoide using materials such as nickel, manganese and cobalt. With its specially developed battery cells, Alteva has significantly increased the number of charging cycles as well as the safety of the lithium-sulphur technology.

The resulting batteries which have improved longevity have the potential to be used for electric trucks and electric aviation. Alteva's breakthrough addresses environmental and human rights concerns in mining areas and the high proportion of global CO2 emissions in the transportation sector. Alteva's vision for the next three years after its founding is to continue product development in the laboratory through to pilot production. Commercial-scale production is planned for the next five years.

SORMAS Foundation gGmbH

A foundation providing a software that facilitates the process management necessary to fight epidemics and pandemics.

Year of foundation: 2022
Team: Pilar Hernandez, Jan Böhme, Gérard Krause, Anja Hauri, Stéphane Ghozzi and Stefanie Castell
Website: https://sormas.org/
Center:  Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI)

Photo: HZI/Verena Meier

SORMAS is a software platform that facilitates the management of epidemics and pandemics. By bringing together healthcare staff, laboratories and other stakeholders, it enables efficient monitoring and control of disease outbreaks. SORMAS collects and analyzes data in real time, enables the assignment of tasks and the tracking of infection chains. The software is continuously developing and adapting to the needs of different countries to ensure sustainable support for the healthcare system. SORMAS is currently used in numerous countries on several continents and has been an integral part of the management of major epidemics of Lassa fever, monkeypox, meningitis, measles and the COVID-19 pandemic.

More about SORMAS (HZI website) →

Osteolabs GmbH

First radiation-free early detection procedure for osteoporosis

Year of foundation: 2018
Founders: Anton Eisenhauer, Stefan Kloth, Michael Müller
Website: https://www.osteolabs.de/de/startseite.html
Center:  GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

© Osteolabs GmbH © Osteolabs GmbH

Osteolabs is the first spin-off from GEOMAR and is already an award-winner. A successful example of cooperation between industry and science. Osteolabs, funded by the Validation Fund and Helmholtz Enterprise, is the first radiation-free early detection method for osteoporosis. The OsteoTest is carried out by the doctor or simply from home and sent to the laboratory. The reliability of the procedure has been medically and scientifically confirmed.

The OsteoTest has already received several awards. In 2020 even twice by the EARTO Innovation Awards and the Prof. Dr. Werner-Petersen-Foundation.

Agile Robots AG

A combination of AI and robotics to ensure a safe interaction between humans and robots

Year of foundation: 2017
Founders: Peter Meusel and Zhaopeng Chen
Website: https://www.agile-robots.com/de/
Center: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

front left: founders Peter Meusel and Zhaopeng Chen | Photo: Agile Robots

With more than 1,200 employees at its sites in Germany and China, the DLR spin-off Agile Robots has been developing intelligent robot solutions for complex production challenges since it was founded in 2018. Its Diana 7 robot arm is already being used in the Asian market in the automotive and 3C industries thanks to its high precision and force-torque sensor technology, which can measure the force applied to the arm and react flexibly to it.

In addition to Diana 7 and other robotic arms, the company portfolio offers its customers AgileCore, a powerful software platform that enables system integrators and operators to develop automation solutions for manufacturing. The platform enables the control and programming of various devices from different manufacturers, including robots, cameras, grippers, AMRs and PLCs, via a single interface. With the possibility of no-code programming, complex workflows can be created by selecting different skills from an extensive skill library. Last year, Agile Robots took over the Helmholtz spin-off Franka Emika, which had recently filed for bankruptcy.


Compact chemical plants for converting methane-containing gases into high-quality synthetic fuels such as gasoline, diesel or kerosene

Year of foundation: 2016
Founders: Philipp Engelkamp, Paolo Piermartini, Peter Pfeifer and Tim Böltken
Website: https://www.ineratec.de/en
Center:  Karlsruhe Institute of Technology  (KIT)

The future of sustainable fuel: Unveiling the first module of Ineratec's pioneering e-Fuel Plant

INERATEC's core product is a compact chemical plant developed at the Institute of Micro Process Engineering at KIT. The mobile plant converts small and medium quantities of methane-containing gases into high-quality synthetic fuels such as gasoline, diesel and kerosene. It also enables the conversion of regenerative hydrogen and carbon dioxide into fuels. The ready-to-use plants are mobile and fit into a conventional shipping container, offer an alternative to cost-intensive large-scale plants and can be used in various industries, from large chemical companies to sewage treatment plants.

KIT Gründerschmiede: INERATEC wins German Founder Award 2018 →
KIT Press Release →

T-Knife GmbH

Breakthrough in adaptive T-cell therapy

Year of foundation: 2015
Founders: Thomas Blankenstein and Elisa Kieback
Website: https://www.t-knife.com/
Center:  Max Delbrück Center for Moleculare Medicine  (MDC)

Elisa Kieback and Thomas Blankenstein | Photo: T-Knife Therapeutics

As a spin-off of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, T-Knife develops innovative immunotherapies against cancer. The Berlin-based biotech company teaches patients' T cells (defense cells of the immune system) to recognize and fight solid tumors.

T-Knife's technology builds on decades of basic research by Professor Thomas Blankenstein and his team with the aim of using genetically modified T cells to cure cancer. Their unique system for the in vivo development of human TCRs is considered a breakthrough in adaptive T-cell therapy. In 2021, six years after its foundation, the young company was able to raise USD 110 million from international investors, which it is using to expand its scientific team, increase production capacities and stock the pipeline with further innovative and differentiated T-cell receptor therapies (TCR-T). The success of T-Knife will help create new opportunities for cancer patients and advance the growing field of immunotherapy.

Founder Kieback gets T-knife off to a flying start →
A long and winding road against cancer: from basic research to therapy →

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